Ecommerce has exploded in popularity over the last decade. Online shopping is now ubiquitous, with consumers spending trillions of dollars per year on everything from groceries to electronics via their computers and mobile devices.
For businesses, having an online retail presence has gone from being a nice added bonus to an absolute necessity for reaching customers.
However, ecommerce marketplace development is not as simple as just tossing up a website and watching the sales roll in. It requires careful planning and execution to create an online shopping experience that converts visitors into paying customers. Here are some key factors to focus on when building and improving an ecommerce site:
Choose the Right Ecommerce Platform
The foundation of any ecommerce site is the software platform it is built on. There are many options to choose from, including hosted solutions like Shopify and BigCommerce or open source platforms like Magento and WooCommerce. The right choice depends on your technical capabilities, budget, and specific business needs. For example, Shopify offers an easy all-in-one setup but charges monthly fees based on sales volume. Magento offers more customization but requires more development and technical resources to manage.
Focus on Site Speed and Mobile Optimization
Site speed and mobile optimization are extremely important. 53% of mobile site visitors will leave a page that takes longer than 3 seconds to load. Your ecommerce site should load quickly on all devices, especially smartphones which account for 50% or more of online shopping traffic. This means using caching technology, compressed images, and a mobile-responsive design. Slow mobile load times cost ecommerce sites millions in lost revenues every year.
User-Friendly Website and Buying Experience
Your ecommerce site needs to be easy for customers to navigate and purchase from. Ensure your product catalogs are well-organized and searchable. Have clear product descriptions, images, pricing, and quantity inputs. Streamline the checkout process with as few steps as possible. Offer guest checkout options to remove frictions. Optimize site speed and performance – slow sites lead to high abandonment rates. Focus on user experience to minimize hassles.
Simplify the Ecommerce Checkout Process
The checkout process is the key to converting browsing shoppers into paying customers. Reduce friction during checkout by minimizing the number of fields/screens, offering guest checkout options, providing multiple payment methods like PayPal or Apple Pay, and clearly displaying shipping costs and estimated taxes. Also make sure the checkout page is PCI compliant and uses SSL encryption to keep customer data secure. A smooth, easy checkout experience leads to higher conversion rates.
Focus on User Experience and Ecommerce Site Navigation
The entire user experience on your ecommerce site should be intuitive and easy to navigate. Important UX elements include quality product photos and descriptions, easy-to-use filtering and search, visually appealing category pages, and a seamless path for users to browse products all the way through to checkout. Use A/B testing to experiment with layout changes, navigation, images, and product information to see what resonates best with your audience.
Promote Trust and Security
Customers need to trust your site in order to feel comfortable buying from you. Increase trust by having an About Us page, secure checkout badge, customer testimonials, and a posted return/refund policy. Also ensure your site looks professionally designed – poor web design can make shoppers unsure about purchasing. Ongoing security protections like malware monitoring and software updates are a must as well.
Promote Across Multiple Channels
Use both digital marketing channels like SEO, PPC, email, and social media alongside traditional promotions like PR, print ads, direct mail to drive awareness and traffic. Omnichannel marketing reaches customers across multiple touchpoints and devices, plus reinforces brand familiarity. Create targeted campaigns tailored to each channel’s audience and strengths.
Offer Engaging Content and Email Marketing
Supplement your ecommerce store with helpful informational content like blog posts, guides, videos, etc. Content offers additional value for visitors and having a blog or content section has been shown to increase conversion rates. Useful, relevant content that engages visitors also improves SEO. Email marketing is another important tool for sales – segmented emails can re-engage customers and promote new arrivals. Just be sure to avoid aggressive email tactics that look overly promotional or spammy.
Provide Excellent Customer Service
Customer service should be a top priority before, during, and after the sale. Options for contacting support like live chat, phone, email ticketing, and social media should be easy to find. Respond to all customer inquiries promptly – ideally within 24 hours or less. Customers will remember the experience they get from your customer service team and it will impact future buying decisions. Go above and beyond to resolve issues and offer a friendly, helpful voice when dealing with customers.
Analyze Ecommerce Data and Continuously Optimize
There is no “set it and forget it” when it comes to ecommerce sites. You need to continually analyze data on visitor behavior, sales, conversion rates, and more to find opportunities for improvement. Use Google Analytics, heat mapping tools, A/B testing, and other analytics resources to gain insights. Testing changes like layout, content, special offers or discounts can reveal ways to optimize the site for higher conversions. Ongoing optimization is key to staying competitive and boosting sales over time.
Developing a successful, high-converting ecommerce store requires an understanding of key elements like platform choice, speed, navigation, security, content, and customer experience. Follow ecommerce and UX best practices, continually optimize based on data, and focus on driving traffic and conversions. With careful planning and execution, your ecommerce site will be well on its way to growth and success.